Fires of Kel Vorath

The Vanishing

There are things that happened yesterday, that I feel like I want to talk about…  but at the same time I probably shouldn’t.  Suffice to say a good friend of mine pulled the ripcord yesterday and jettisoned out of the internet briefly.  I kept trying to figure out if it was something I did or said, but it seems like there were just larger things happening that I will never fully understand.  While it was happening though I was supremely confused and depressed to be watching it going on… and felt rather helpless to stop it.  I have a bad habit of trying to internalize these things, and trying to figure out how exactly I had failed the person.  Luckily for us at least, the person seems to be reversing course a bit… and since friends are friends I am ready to welcome them back with open arms regardless.

image A few weeks ago I was moved to send out a blanket tweet and I honestly don’t even remember why at the moment.  While I don’t remember what started it, the sentiment is very heart felt.  Each and every one of you makes my life better in some way.  We might grouse and bicker and have bad days, but at the end of the day I am better off because each of you exists out there and has touched me in some way.  We use the word “community” a lot, but in many ways it doesn’t really sum it up.  You guys are my family, and not the uncle that you never see and always thought was kind of weird…  but the ones you wish you saw more often.  As an adult, your friends are the family you choose to associate with.  I don’t draw lines between real life and online…  because the effect is real either way.  So I just wanted to start my blog post this morning in trying to remind you all what you mean to me.

Fires of Kel Vorath

Belghast.140616.235401 The better part of last night I spent trying to finish out the Auroria zone in Wildstar.  The further into that zone you get, the more intense the questing becomes.  The other night I ran the Ruins of Kel Vorath dungeon with some guildies, and last night I finally reached that area in zone.  It is absolutely massive and everything seems to exist on this grand epic scale.  The only thing I can really equate it to is doing the quests outside of Dire Maul in World of Warcraft, but imagine that Dire Maul was maybe four to five times bigger.  Almost an hour of that time was spent doing a single zone event quest as I helped the dominion retake Kel Vorath.  The rewards were minimal but the experience gain was phenominal.  At the beginning of the night I was level 22 and now I am level 24 and about halfway into it.

I came into Wildstar expecting fun mechanics and a really enjoyable world to wander around in and explore.  I had zero expectations of epic story so I am really pleasantly surprised to find it.  I have no clue how much of the zone I have left.  Right now I am hung up on a main story quest because I cannot for the life of me find the mob I am supposed to be killing.  The indicator is on my map, and I have wandered around the entire area without finding any place that lets me go underground where the indicator seems to point me.  Unfortunately the game is just new enough that there really are not many guides out there that I can even lean on as a crutch.  So if I ever manage to find Kaarg the Divine…  then I imagine I will be wrapping up the zone in rapid succession.  I have the quest leading me out of Auroria to speak to someone at Palerock Post, so I think I am as “done” as it comes other than this one straggler.

PVPness

WildStar64 2014-06-18 07-21-53-292 I don’t have any proper screenshots from last night, so instead here is a shot of me standing on this giant gun.  Zelibeli decided to schedule a PVP night last night, and in an attempt to spur it on I showed up and participated.  Several of my friends had a pen and paper game going on, so I knew attendance would be at least somewhat limited.  I am supposed to be participating in the game, but for one reason or another I have not actually made it to a single meeting.  So I figured it was just fine if I didn’t make this one either.  We actually had five people ready to go for PVP, the only problem was that we were not complimentary levels.  This might be an oversight on their part, but for whatever reason it does not seem like you can mentor down to the lowest player and queue together for PVP.  Maybe this is their way of trying to prevent “smurfing”, but in any case it also meant that we all needed to swap to alts to make this work.

WildStar64 2014-06-18 07-37-25-650I grabbed my level eight warrior, because quite literally… that is the only character I have other than my engineer that has finished the “ship” starter area.  First thing I have to say is that I suck horribly at pvp, and as a result I tend to actively avoid it.  That said PVP in this game is much like PVP was in Warhammer Online… as in it is a phenominal way to level a character.  I went into the night about halfway through level either, and exited the night almost level eleven.  We ran maybe five matches, towards the end we were starting to get the swing of things.  We were playing Walatiki Temple, which in many ways is like a remix of Warsong Gultch.  Instead of being a pure capture the flag scenario, it is a “collect the things” one.  In that you capture these Moodie Masks that spawn in the center of the zone and take them back to your base.

The catch is that you can also capture masks from your base.  So in theory you have to guard the middle objective and your own base to be able to win it.  We were doing a fair job of limiting the hemorrhaging towards the end of the night until someone started shooting off his mouth about how dumb we were for guarding the masks at home… causing the entire team to get distracted and fumble.  People really are the worst part of PVP, and I wish in many ways there was NO chat in the battleground.  If they simply had a smart ping system like league of legends has, I think most of the chat could simply disappear.  The challenge we had last night is that ultimately we ended up against other premades, and quite simply we were not exactly “premade” quality.

In World of Warcraft, if you queued as a five man you got matched against other groups that queued as a five man.  From the way that we got trounced I am guessing that the Exile players were a combination of two five man premades.  They each worked flawlessly to whittle down our defenses and at the same time keep pushing forwards and taking masks.  All of this said… I really was surprised just how much I enjoyed myself, and bolstered by just how little the rest of the AofA folks cared about winning.  We were there to play the game and play it as well as we could while we could.  With that sort of attitude I can totally see this becoming a regular thing.  I like playing anything… and so long as folks keep a good attitude about it I can deal with losing all night long if we do.  The big positive is that win or lose you still get a ton of experience and a satchel of goods, so I came out way ahead at the end of the night.

#Wildstar #WalatikiTemple #Auroria #FiresOfKelVorath

Friday Forum Fodder

Bring on the Fodder

For awhile now I have had a forum segment kicking around in my head.  The idea is that I use Fridays as a day to reflect on things that have been brewing out on the various games forums.  My friends have thought this was madness, as it would likely devolve into flame based insanity.  I however think that I can make it work, since so many topics start on the forums anyways.  However based on recent events, especially relating to one of the topics I have chosen this morning… it still very much can get out of hand.  Anyways…. if I don’t start this thing I won’t get it done in time.

Stop..ramming..pvp…down…my…throat!!!

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/11422312838

Yup that’s right… I have opted to leave the original forum post title intact for most of these unless it is offensive.  Abusive use of ellipses aside there is nothing terribly offensive so here goes.  This thread spawned a really interesting response from Bashiok stating hinting that in Warlords of Draenor a more permanent PVP toggle would be on it’s way.  Now this has already been discussed by @AlternativeChat and @Qelric but I don’t really want to respond on what they have said… since the whole idea behind this is for me to respond to the subject matter contained within the forum post.  I know this involves a bunch of semantics and blinders and whatnot… but it is a thing I am striving to do.

I have to admit my first reaction was “It’s about damned time”, as well as my second and third and fourth reaction.  I have a love/hate relationship with PVP in general, in that I tend to love to hate on it.  I am a massive Carebear at heart and get really excited about collaboration and community in online games and not so much about conflict and competitiveness.  Please understand that this is coming from someone who tanked my servers first alliance Reins of the Black War Bear raid.  Additionally I was a proud supporter of the South Shore vs Tarren Mill madness from vanilla and got to meet most of my servers hardcore PVPers during that time.  However that is the root of it… I want to PVP when I want to PVP, and no other time.  The problem lies that there are so many ways that you can get accidentally flagged without ever really intending it.

One of the things I do semi regularly is run around the Timeless Isle farming the named mobs.  Generally speaking be it on the Timeless Isle or Darkmoon Faire I am a pretty welcome commodity since there never seems to be any tanks out there willing to tank the mini-bosses.  The problem is as a Deathknight sometimes my diseases end up getting on flagged players and in turn flag me.  Honestly I don’t know what it is, but I assumed it was the disease/bloodboil that I am constantly doing because I will end up flagged pretty much every time I do this public service.  Granted the horde generally have the self preservation to wait until I have tanked the boss for them before killing me…  but moments after downing the boss I am generally laying dead on the floor.

You might be thinking this means I rally support and start an epic land war?  Nope… this means I do one of two things.  Either I walk away for a bit and wait for my flag to clear before resurrecting, or I simply log out of the game and play something else for awhile.  I seriously want zero part in PVP on a day to day basis and see it as an imposition on my play time.  Ultimately that is what it is about for me, PVP is a gross inconvenience upon my time and forces me to somehow direct my attention to something other than my current goals.  It is very much not a welcome distraction, and since I tend to play tanks… very few of the pvp skills have any meaning within the game I tend to play.  PVP tanking was a thing I loved, but sadly that only really existed in a functional way in Warhammer Online.

Rift has had this PVP toggle for awhile now and it works extremely well.  They brought it in during the much larger “faction as fiction” patch which is something I would love to see Blizzard do as well.  Factions are meaningless things to me, and ultimately boil down as red vs blue in my eyes.  I generally do not have much faction pride one way or the other… just like I have no sports team alignments.  In an MMO the only “faction” I generally care about is my guild and its members.  I tend to see the “Faction walls” as un-needed barriers that keep me from playing with half of the other players on the server.  I started playing MMOs before these things really existed in Everquest, and have never really seen the benefit of them on the whole.  Faction should be something that is character specific, that may limit where you can go in the world…. but not limit who you can associate with.

To summarize…  “hell yeah” to the prospect of a more permanent PVP toggle.  There have been a lot of people speculating how this might work, with faction cities etc.  They can honestly take a pretty good queue from Rift in that when you are flagged as “No PVP” you can still be attacked by NPCs of that opposing faction.  Thing is… you just cannot attack them back without turning off your anti-pvp flag.  So this means that NPCs are more than willing to beat you into a pulp for being the pacifist you are.  Players however… cannot.  Running around in anti-war mode should have its limits, and this seems to be a pretty good way of handling them.

Why reforging removal is a mistake

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/11551045075

There are many versions of this thread out on the Battle.net forums, but this was one of the longest running sitting presently at three pages.  Generally speaking I think a lot of these devolve into flames and get deleted before becoming truly “epic” threads.  To summarize the original posters point…  the believes that reforging was put in place to balance the classes and break the tyranny of having over powered classes.  This opinion to me only seems to reinforce why reforging needs to go to be honest.  I watched the blizzcon coverage the year they announced Reforging, and it was generally sold to the player base as a way of having MORE choice not having less.  The problem is, like everything we the players have ruined it.  I truly believe the intent, just like the intent of the current talent situation… was to allow us to have a bit more flavor in our characters.  So that we could put our own spin on on the current spec and tweak the gear to perform the way we wanted it to perform.

The reality however is that we have systemized this and anyone who does not use Ask Mr Robot to reforge their gear to an “optimal” state is immediately “ doing it wrong”.  Essentially… this is why we can’t have nice things.  I personally ignore Mr Robot in favor of my own flavor on my spec, but I am sure I am a horrible person for doing this.  Essentially just like the way the previous talent system was… we have an “illusion of choice” in that everyone is expected to change their gear stats towards the same ultimate ideal scenario.  If this is a thing that every single player is doing, it means to me that the design of the system was inherently flawed in the first place.  I applaud Blizzard for taking chances on building new systems, and I also applaud them for reversing that decision when it looks like it simply is another “non choice”.

If you have not gotten the impression already, I applaud them for deciding to remove reforging.  While it was a really cool idea, it never quite worked out as well as I would have personally liked.  The way it worked always seemed extremely limiting.  I think we all envisioned a system where we could throw away useless stats from our gear in favor of the one that we really wanted in the first place.  However the reality was dictated by some pretty rigid rules and only actually allowed us to change the secondary and tertiary stats, instead of getting more of the thing we generally want… our primary class stat.  Additionally there is the issue of… if you are constantly reforging away a specific stat then the gear is simply itemized poorly.

Again I feel like this is another case where World of Warcraft can take a queue from Rift.  Generally speaking the stats that I find myself personally reforging away are hit and expertise.  This is because these stats can appear on every single piece of gear…  however they are only useful in limited quantities until you hit the soft cap for every class.  As a result you are lining up to remove them once you reach the higher tiers of raiding.  How Rift has “fixed” this problem is certain stats only appear on certain pieces of gear.  So you have a limited number of ways to gain that stat, so each and every piece them becomes important.  Granted the hit/expertise issue is no longer going to be an issue at all… since they decided to simply remove the stat entirely.

Ultimately those are two completely different game design approaches.  In the case of Rift they decided to make it work, by rationing the stats that players didn’t need as often.  In the case of wow they kind just applied a general mallet to the approach and are now designing around the need for those stats in the first place.  Both are completely valid approaches, and as always Blizzard seems to line up on the side of simplification rather than intricacy.  If Blizzard were a toy it would likely be something made by Fischer Price and not some intricate model kit imported from Japan.  There are places for both kinds of games and ultimately why I play more than just WoW.  Currently it seems like the decisions they are making for Warlords of Draenor are really good ones, given the present state of the game….  however I am sure 2 years from launch we will be applauding them for undoing various things they did.  World of Warcraft is a constantly evolving game, and I think as a whole this is a really good thing.

More Fodder Next Week

Mostly I am curious if this concept worked for you and if you actually enjoyed it?  I am still evolving in my head what I want this to be.  Generally speaking when I blog, I respond based on what I have heard said in the blogosphere without really going back to the original forum source… if a forum did in fact spawn the discussion.  With this I am trying to essentially write what I would have written as a forum response… but instead in very long form blog format.  Let me know if this works, or if it doesn’t how you would like to see it changed.   Also remember tomorrow begins another experiment of mine…  Factoid February.  I still am not 100% certain what I will write… but I expect to devote one section a day to whatever the current “Fact” is.

Why Have PVP Gear?

A Farewell to Gear

warlords-of-draenor-1920x1080

I have to say that still, months after the  announcement of Warlords of Draenor, the most surprising and interesting change that has been announced still relates to the gear.  During Blizzcon they made an announcement that gear would change its primary stat based on the spec you are currently equipping it under.  This means no more healer plate that no one wants, but instead multifunctional items that can be equipped in theory by any plate class.  The catch however is that secondary stats will not change, meaning we will have a situation similar to the Timeless Isle.  On the isle you can get tokens for 496 epic gear, but the stat assortment is random, meaning you will end up with several items that are less than optimal… but still functional for your current spec.

That said, having gear that transforms for you should at least in theory cut down on the sheer number of items that you need to carry around in your bags.  Since the advent of dual specs, this has meant that pretty much every player carries with them two full sets of gear, which doesn’t take into account any weird situational fight based items (yes I have a few of these).  In a game with as small of bag sizes as World of Warcraft, this quickly becomes painful.  Yes I consider 28 slots to be small especially when you consider I am used to having 6 44 slot bags in EQ2 with another 20 44 slot bags in my bank.

Why Have PVP Gear?

wowpvp

One of the big disappointments from the announcement however is that they seem to have stopped short of making this strategy work for the whole PVE vs PVP gear divide.  One of the odd things about coming back to WoW and playing it seriously after spending several years playing other games, is it gives you a unique perspective that many devoted WoW players simply do not have.  Quite frankly other games do a lot of the same functionality that World of Warcraft has, far better.  I have noticed a big trend in these games to jettison the concept of PVP only gear, and in most cases I have to say the games are far better off for doing this.  My question is… if they have this wonderful new tech that changes out the primary stats on gear based on the spec in which you are equipping it… why not carry these changes to whether or not you are in player vs player combat?

I don’t know for certain the specifics of the gear change, and honestly at this point I think the only people that do are knee deep in the bowels of Blizzard actively coding on it.  However I have to assume that most of this functions based on the Item Level of an item.  There has to be a direct correlation between ilvl X equates to X Strength or X Intellect.  Why not carry this same logic forward to PVP gear in general.  At a certain ilevel every single item tends to have the same resilience and pvp power etc.  Why not make these latent stats on every single piece of gear in the game?  There will always be players who only care about PVP and always be players that only care about PVE.  However without really meaning to you are asking players to choose which game they want to play.

What about Dabblers?

deepwind

In both raiding and pvp you have drawn lines in the sand based on gear determining at what point someone actually becomes effective.  In order to be anything but canon fodder in on a PVP battleground you need a certain level of the PVP focused stats.  This makes breaking into PVP a horrendously frustrating experience for most players.  Sure there is a crafted set of PVP gear, and anyone with enough cash or tradeskill expertise can knock this set out and be relatively competitive.  However this is a pretty huge chasm to cross going from the PVE world to the PVP one.  The same is not really the case going from PVP to PVE, since the majority of PVP gear is functionally effective to start raiding without being too much of a drain on the raid group that is hosting you.

Additionally since Blizzard seems to relish forcing PVE centric players to PVP… I am looking at you legendary cloak quest line.  It seems only fair to simply do away with the stark difference between PVP and PVE gear at this point.  I am sure there are PVPers out there that can make the same frustrated argument that they hate being forced to PVE.  Making all gear function in both situations seems like a win across the board to me.  Gear should be gear, regardless of how you got it… and so long as the “effort” requirements are the same…  either through weeks spent learning PVE content or weeks spent gaining honor…  the end result should provide similar rewards.

The strength of World of Warcraft is that it is the total package.  Like I said before, there are many games on the market that do this or that aspect of the game better, but no product offering has as many high points for as many different play styles as WoW does.  It is because of this that the line in the sand between PVP and PVE feels all the more arbitrary.  Let players play the game however they like and reap similar rewards from whatever activity they choose to do.  Then again my whole multiple paths of progression diatribe is another topic for another day.  I feel like WoW should embrace the “Wal-mart of MMOs” moniker, because it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  There will always be niche games that do certain things far better, but it stands alone as the best complete package.